We are a nation with a great culture. Our values teach us to be concerned about others. Visitors to this country have admired our noble quality of helping the neighbour. The culture of our ancestors was to serve others first.  But today this has changed. We mainly serve ourselves and our charitable acts are minimal. [...]


Who climbs up and who climbs down?


We are a nation with a great culture. Our values teach us to be concerned about others. Visitors to this country have admired our noble quality of helping the neighbour. The culture of our ancestors was to serve others first.  But today this has changed. We mainly serve ourselves and our charitable acts are minimal. This is the bane of our nation. We ourselves should look for answers to this.

At a wedding, all gifts to the groom are customarily handed over to the bride. But how often does this happen now? Today most men have forgotten their obligations to women. Couples venturing into a new life must know their duties and obligations. They must ask and learn these from their parents. Those who do not understand their duties behave foolishly, and their lives and those of their children are often ruined.

There is the story of those who were returning after observing Sil. On seeing a group cooking a tortoise, one person went up to them and said, “We would cook the tortoise differently”. He forgot that he had just observed Sil. This is a lesson to all. Not running with the herd; we have to study things in the correct perspective.

Many poor people struggle for survival today in countries which are rich and powerful. What is the answer we can give to those who are saying that the world has developed? Has the capability and industry of those who governed us helped make our lives better? If that has really happened our country should be flowing with milk and honey. Can we identify families living in peace and harmony? If the country has developed like what the Noble One, the Lord Buddha, has preached we should be free from need. But the majority of the people are in need, or they are sick.

We cannot overlook the reality that those who do not take life seriously and are generally lazy are in the majority. The Government cannot provide answers to all our problems. The people must realise that the Government has a duty to develop the country by utilising the public resources efficiently. On the other hand, the Government must realise that it cannot govern the people with a gun in hand. We know our history and must not forget it.

We have to solve the country’s problems with charity and forbearance. If we do not do this government development plans will be like spilt milk. Today agriculture has reached the lowest ebb. Neglected, uncultivated land is in abundance. Children of farmers have given up cultivation. They have become a trousered gentry. We have heard the story that if you wash the mud off a farmer and dress him well, he will be fit to be a king.

Yes, today’s children will not go to the field and tread mud. We should make it compulsory for children to get to the field as part of their agriculture lesson. If we do not get the children to take part in sowing, planting and even cutting the harvest, we will continuously have to find dollars and pounds to get our plate of rice from abroad.

The Japanese still use a traditional way of keeping rice fresh for a long time. We use machines when the rice is still immature. Thus its quality is low. The tractor, and hand tractor help the farmer immensely. The hand tractor can work wonders for the farmer. The Government should take this into consideration and remove the customs duty from the import of hand tractors and motorcycles while harvesting machines should be banned in Sri Lanka.

When paddy is harvested it should be stored in such a way that the seeds are protected. Today only a few farmers go to the field without having a drink of alcohol. There are no casual hands to do the work now. If there are, they only work for a few hours. They do not know how to store the paddy after harvesting.

In Japan, TV channels broadcast 24 hours highlighting Japan’s concepts, culture and noble and human qualities. We do not have them here. A TV station can start programmes to educate all sectors including the public sector about good human qualities. Disciplined and cultured people must be in charge of the programmes. They must stop all unwanted programmes that are dished out continuously and instead educate people in their language and in good governance. Then only will TV be really useful to our society.

We must get help from the clergy of all religions to spread good values in our society. We must take all measures to reestablish language, education and sustainable development to prevent the country from going into an abyss. We must forget our petty differences and unite whether we belong to the government or opposition, forgetting political parties, caste, creed and other differences.

Countries in Europe and Japan though strong, have their problems. We are, however, still not developed. We are still struggling. We had a glorious past, but our present is problematic. We are not sure of our future. We have not used our labour force effectively. Our people are lazy. We do not have a disciplined labour force. Though we have a large workforce in the private and public sectors, those who actually work are only a few. Many collect their salaries without contributing their labour effectively. Without reforming this situation, we cannot progress further. We have to correct the way we eat, and the way we dress and move around. We have to end corruption and robbery, speak and practise what is good and become a new generation.

The mind and intellect must be developed, patience and forbearance cultivated. We must provide practical training to build a nation with these qualities. The best way to do this is to encourage the people to practise their religions. We have to start this education from scratch.

Schools and universities do not focus sufficient attention to the need to cultivate good qualities. Through a proper TV channel, we can improve the quality of Daham Pasal children. Finally we must learn from our mistakes. It is our duty to realise this and avoid pitfalls in the future. We live in this world for a temporary period. Let us live without being a burden to others. Let that be our vision!

You may send your thoughts and suggestions to:

Ven. Galaboda Siri Gnanissara Thera, Gangaramaya Temple, 61, Sri Jinarathana Road, Colombo 02.

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